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Mark's Blog: Why I run Posted on October 15, 2013

It's been almost 2 months since my marathon debut. On purpose, I chose to take my time reflecting on the incredible experience in Duluth, Minnesota.  However, these past few months I have gotten a lot of flak for what happened that morning.  Finally, I have sorted through my thoughts and I am ready to explain. Ultimately, my hope with this post is to not only show you what running has done for my life but what a commitment in a long term investment can do for yours. Running isn't for everyone. I do believe there is something for everybody out there. I am just lucky enough to have already found it. I hope after you read this you are inspired to find something that’ll help you sustain your happiness.

As many of you know, I am an avid distance runner. It started off pretty simple. I was an out of shape 12 year old kid trying to find my path in life. My family had a culture around running. It only made sense that I would follow in their footsteps. Once I started, I was addicted.  After a run this morning with a friend, we both wondered the same question. "Why are we okay with running being a long term process? However, everything else in life we want to rush through." Whether it's getting a good job, making money, getting married, having kids, our society for some odd reason seems extremely rushed. I understand the phrase, "life is short make the best of it." Trust me I do.  But, if there is anything running has taught me, it's to appreciate the good and bad days. You won't reach your goals overnight.

I have come to terms with being a mediocre distance runner. As a high school kid, my only goal was to run well enough to get the attention of different colleges. I believed if you work harder than anyone else you will achieve your dreams. Running on a Division 1 team didn't seem impossible in my eyes. In retrospect, it's not impossible by any means. Just the expectations I set for myself and the goals I was driven towards were probably not as realistic as they should have been. I managed to run on a State Championship Cross Country team my senior year of high school. We all ran the races of our lives that day.  After that, the motivation to be better wasn't there. I never found that gear again.  Track season senior year was a bust and I won't even mention my freshman year of college. This is where I stop you and ask you this. What would it mean to you if you loved something but you were not putting in a full effort?

After an upsetting freshman year of college, I sat myself down and asked myself the same question. What's the point of getting out the door every day and running if I am not going to be anything great in this sport?  I made the decision to commit to running 100 percent. No plans, no goals, and no expectations.  My commitment this time wasn’t for glory, the scholarships, or the fame.  It was for improving my everyday life.  I decided I was going to run because that's what makes me happy. I am not going to miss runs to drink. I am not going to slack off. I am going to drive myself to be healthy human.  Being healthy is relative for everyone. I truly believe I was put on this earth to run. Running makes me happy and helps the overall quality of my life. If my running is consistent, my life is consistent.

A year and half ago was when I went back to the drawing board and reinvented my running. Since then, I have been on fire. This past year, I set many personal records and trained for my first marathon. After the incident in Boston, I felt I owed it to myself to run my first one.  10 weeks later, I stepped on the line at Grandmas Marathon. The weather was frigid.  It couldn't have been warmer than 45 degrees at the start. For the first time in my running career, I stepped to the line with no thoughts at all.  No nerves, no anxiety, no nothing. The gun went off and I cruised through the rain and wind. I finished Grandmas Marathon with a time of 2:53:46. However, forever that will be an unofficial time. Here is the thing, at the majority of races there is a chip you put on your shoe to ensure you get an accurate finish time.  The race coordinators require it to be worn to have an official time.  I was that idiot who forgot to wear it. My only goal was to race that day to get my spot at the Boston Marathon. I knew I was going to do it. Many thought I was over confident going in. I just knew it was my day to achieve that mark regardless of it being my debut with that distance. I proved everyone right. I didn't qualify for Boston. Because I didn't wear a chip, that's an automatic disqualification. The race cannot take times that were never officially recorded. I wore a GPS watch that tracked my distance and time. There were also photos and videos of me on the course starting and finishing.  The evidence was there. There was a lesson for me that day. Follow the rules. There are no exceptions.

This was a test to my maturity.  It would have been easy to make excuses and mope around. Many people told me after the race I was an idiot.  I lost respect for a lot of people who had such nasty things to say to someone who achieved great things that morning. They asked, "How could you forget something so easy?" I have heard it all. I know what I did that day was special. Although I didn't qualify for Boston, the time I ran was nearly 11 + minutes over the qualifier for my age group. I would be lying to you if I said I don't care about forgetting my chip. Often, I'll tell people that to get them off my back. The truth is it sucked. It sucked a lot. The reality is running isn't paying the bills for me. No race is going to define me as person. I am just blessed to say I can go out every day and pound the pavement or trails. My running has been consistently healthy for a year and a half. I have met incredible people along the ride and cherish the connections I have and will continue to make in the sport. I will continue to run. Running is the love of my life. I will be back and I will qualify for Boston another day.

 For about a year I have been struggling with depression. I love to be open about it and thank the people who have helped me get through the hard days.  Running is the sole reason I am still on this earth today. I pride myself on wearing my heart on my sleeve. If you judge me for that, that’s fine.  I am who I am and I will never change.  I can tell you this; this blog means much more to me than me just expressing the way I feel.  I feel as if the things I am experiencing can help inspire others in my life. Thank you for reading. I appreciate the support.


by Mark Spewak


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Michael on On 11/28 at 06:31 AM

Hi Mark, I don’t consider myself a religious dude, but I do believe in “self.” I believe in passion mixed with ability, leads to ones destiny. I’ve found inspiration in this video, because Ryan believes in the same. Watch, enjoy, and take what you want. Run happy, Mark.


big red on On 11/27 at 11:28 PM

I truly love the inspiration, it always helps me to get out the door to pound some miles but most importantly SMILE!

stlgirl87 on On 11/27 at 03:49 PM

You have been quite inspirational! I don’t know where my running career would be without your continous support and encouragement!
More Miles More Smiles!

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